Hollywood bad boy Charlie Sheen has revealed big screen comeback plans after admitting for the first time that his public ‘meltdown’ was a result of dealing with his HIV secret.
In a rare and exclusive interview ahead of his one-night only West End appearance - in association with our WOW247 entertainments section - he has given an insight into what fans can expect.
And he won’t be shying away from any tough questions.
An Evening With Charlie Sheen, hosted by Piers Mogan, a Rocco Buonvino and EJB Events presentation, is at London’s prestigious Drury Lane Theatre on Sunday, June 19.
The A-lister star of blockbusters like Platoon, Wall Street, Young Guns, Hot Shots! and The Three Musketeers, who then became the world’s highest paid TV star at $1.25m an episode for comedy sitcom Two and a Half Men, will share his passion for acting, producing and writing.
In our chat - listen to it in full online - he gave details of his comeback film later this year, which will see him alongside Whoopi Goldberg, trapped in an elevator in the World Trade Centre’s North Tower during the 9/11 attacks.
The 50-year-old says he would also like to work again with his “hero”, his legendary actor dad Martin Sheen, who has stood by him during the bad times. And he hopes there’s chance of rekindle movie glory with Platoon and Wall Street director Oliver Stone.
But he also spoke openly about his personal life, which has been all over the headlines, revealing details of his part in exciting new clinical trials of a once-a-week drug to keep his HIV condition at bay.
Blackmailers stung him for a reported $10m to keep his HIV positive status a secret, until he went public in November.
In the wake of his dismissal from Two and a Half Men came a highly publicised meltdown, in which he made bizarre statements in television interviews, suggesting that he was a “warlock” with “tiger blood” and “Adonis DNA”. In another he was a “rock star from Mars”. He posted videos to YouTube showing himself smoking cigarettes through his nose, and cursing out his former employers.
Now on the road to putting all that behind him he admitted it was the pressure of hiding his diagnosis and keeping it to himself that sent him off the rails.
When I put that to him he replied firmly: “Absolutely. Yes. There was something coming down every day and it was just a kind of an in order response way of dealing with it.
“Then I stopped seeing myself as a victim and started seeing myself as potentially a hero to others that were in a similar struggle and that’s when everything turned.
He added: “I’m actually doing really well with all that. It was hard to deal with at first and really difficult to maintain the secrecy behind it. And of course the stuff I’ve already talked about publicly - with a lot of the folks who took advantage of my condition and used it in different levels of extortion and blackmail and henceforth.”
Sheen wanted fans to know he is feeling “amazing” on a new clinical trial of a drug called PRO 140, which is a new class of HIV/AIDS therapeutics that protects healthy cells from viral infection.
It gives him and other HIV sufferers genuine hope for the future - unlike the outcome of his well publicised trip to Mexico for a goat-milk–based HIV cure treatment earlier this year, which was given by a doctor of dubious credentials.
“I had that episode in Mexico with the charlatan, so that was kind of a mess,” he admits.
“But I’m actually involved in a FDA trial where it’s going to change the immediate landscape of HIV treatment. It’s a company called CytoDyne and a treatment called PRO 140. And instead of taking the pills every day, it’s one shot every week.
“So I go to my doctor and he administers that. I’m in my third week of that and I already feel amazing, because taking those pills every day, it’s a bit toxic you know. This is quite the opposite, so we’re really excited about the prospect of that.
“And you know, if I just accept it as this is part of my life, then it’s a lot easier to deal with.
“It’s a reality check when they walk in and give you the news. Holy s***, how did we wind up here.”
He can certainly take a joke. In 2011 he was roasted on TV, by the likes of William Shatner, Mike Tyson, Jeff Ross, Slash, Amy Schumer and Seth MacFarlane, watched by 6.4 million people, the highest rated roast on Comedy Central to date.
“I knew it was all in good fun and there is a reason why they let the roastee have the final word,” he laughed.
“I actually threw a party at my house to watch it, with everybody else who was involved - they were all baffled because nobody as ever done that. I don’t mind a joke as long as it’s smart.”
Sheen’s career went from the high drama of Platoon and Wall Street to comedy, with spoof films like Hots Shots, followed by the likes of Three Musketeers, Scary Movie sequels and his Two and a Half Men smash hit on TV.
“It was an accident. I had done four dramas in a row, the last culminating with a buddy cop picture with Clint Eastwood, called the Rookie. That didn’t work and I went, ‘Oh Geez, what next?’.
“I’m such a fan of the spoof genre, before it got completely saturated. I got the call and the rest is history.”
So what about the future for the comeback kid?
He said: “I just finished a film about a month ago. It’s pretty interesting. The tentative title is Tower One, it’s a 9/11 film and it’s the first story told from the inside. It’s about five people in an elevator in the North Tower on the day of the event. It’s based on actual events. We’e just finished that. I’ve just seen the rough cut and it looks fabulous.
“We’re going to debut at a film festival on 9/11.
He’s raised conspiracy theory questions about the legitimacy of the attacks but his opinions won’t be expressed in the film.
“No, no. We stay away from all that. There’s that side of it. This is a real human interest piece and really honouring those we lost. It honours all the heroes.”
He would also love to star again alongside his Hollywood royalty dad, Martin, who has acted opposite him many times, including in Wall Street and Two and a Half Men. He’s also stood by him during his hard personal times.
“He’s one of my heroes. If something, the right thing came up, absolutely - any chance to work with your family, especially when they are this talented. It’s always a gift,” he said.
Charlie, born Carlos Estevez, even decided to act under the name Sheen,unlike his famous siblings. He says he wanted to honour his dad by carrying it on, though he did appear under his birth name as a joke in his last movie, an action comedy with Mel Gibson, called Machete Kills.
“I did that as a joke. I had asked for the last credit but Mel had it... so I said, ‘OK, then let’s do an introducing, using my real name’, he explained.
Director Oliver Stone gave him his first major breaks 30-yeasr ago in Platoon then 1987’s Wall Street. They looked set to make Born on the Fourth of July, but Tom Cruise was cast instead and there appeared tobe something of a falling out.
But Sheen is keen to look to the future and hopes they could make another big film together.
“He was a trip. I think there’s a movie for he and I to trilogies out there somewhere. We did pretty good together back in the day and we’ve stayed in touch. I can’t see why that couldn’t continue,” he adds.
Sheen’s rants and meltdowns propelled him to the record for fastest time to reach a million Twitter followers, in just 25 hours 17 minutes. But when he told his daughters to look him up they discovered his other entry, as highest paid man on TV for Two And A Half Men, at $1.25m per episode - and later reportedly £1.8m.
Of the later figure he said: “It was less than that. But what’s funny, my daughters a couple of years ago discovered the Guinness Book Of World Records. I said, ‘your dad’s in there’. They said, ‘no you’re not’. I said ‘yes, go to the index and look up my name’.
“I was referring to the Twitter world record, right - fastest million followers. There’s this long pause, I hear them turning the pages and then suddenly one says, ‘you made how much?” I didn’t even realise I was in for that too.”
He looked to be having so much fun on that TV show, would he have done it for free?
“It appeared that way. There are a lot of moving parts. Whatever went bad I’m sure was my fault and I’ve come to terms with that,” he says, adding that his part of Charlie Harper wasn’t actually art imitating life.
Sheen said: “It wasn’t really. There were themes you could draw parallels to, the obvious ones. But no, it was more about a broken dysfunctional family, that was trying to pick up the pieces. And about camaraderie and brotherhood and single parenting.
“There were a lot of things that were missed occasionally, because of what was up front, with my character.”
Three times married he has five children of his own and in 2013 Charlie Sheen became a grandad.
“You can’t believe it. How do you think I feel?,” he laughed.
“It’s fabulous, I was just with her. It’s my oldest daughter, Cassandra’s child, Luna. We were just together at my mom’s birthday. She’s fabulous, the happiest kid I’ve ever seen, which speaks to great parenting. It’s the stuff people don’t really see or understand about me at first glance. That’s what I’m hoping the show will deliver.
He said: “It’s an opportunity to spend some time and interact with my fans and discuss a myriad of topics and subjects and themes - to talk about a lot of the stuff I’ve been through, the stuff I’m currently engaged in and dealing with. And just talk about past, present and future.
“In and round that, especially in a Q and A format - with somebody like Piers I think there’s always the opportunity for the unpredictable to arise, which I’ve never shied from,” he laughs.
“But I want to keep it family friendly and just let the people se a side of me that they wouldn’t normally have access to.
Of being interviewed by Piers Morgan, who is famed for bringing out emotions in his guests and often moving them to tears, he adds: “He and I have interviewed in the past and its always gone famously.So when his name came up I said absolutely. It sounds like a perfect fit.
“But he’s not afraid to ask the tough questions. He’s really smart. He was a cub reporter back in the day and I gave him an interview, in Aspen I believe, a Planet Hollywood thing - and we’ve been loyal to one another ever since.”
A few lucky fans will get the chance to have their photograph taken with him backstage.
He says: “Yes, definitely. It’s cool because it gives people a chance to get up close and personal, to take home a piece of something that hopefully is memorable.”
“I look forward to seeing everybody, I send warm hugs and good tidings until I am in person.”
* Tickets for An Evening With Charlie Sheen, in association with WOW247 at London’s Drury Lane Theatre on Sunday, June 19, are £25 to £120, subject to booking fees. Call the ticket hotline on 0844 439 475 or visit www.seatlive.com
Ticket holders, at the time of booking only, can also purchase an exclusive photo opportunity with Charlie for an extra £250.